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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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May 24, 2005

Table of Contents

Olympus and Tool Factory Sponsor Classroom Grants Program and Student Photo Contest
MMIS Xtra News: Complete May/June 2005 MultiMedia & Internet@Schools Contents Now Available Online—Full Text, Text+Graphics, PDF
Free Resources: Scholastic Launches ‘Write It’ Interactive Site for Students and Teachers
ITI Cross Links: Groxis and Yahoo! Team Up to Grok the Web
Free Resources: National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth Web Site
Marquis Who’s Who Releases Digitized Historical Biographies
Cools Links: Google Scholar is Now Open to All Libraries
Mandarin Library Automation Announces Mandarin M3 Software Available as Free Download
Mandarin Releases Oasis Web-Based Library Management Software System
CIA World Factbook 2005 Now Available

Olympus and Tool Factory Sponsor Classroom Grants Program and Student Photo Contest

Olympus America, Inc., in partnership with Tool Factory, Inc., recently announced it is sponsoring a classroom grants program and a student photo contest designed to strengthen education through digital imaging and the power of visual learning. Aimed at K-12 students and teachers, the two programs will award winners packages that include Olympus digital cameras, Tool Factory educational software, and cash. Each of the four classroom grants to be awarded is worth $3,550. One first-place and three second-place student photo contest winners will receive their share of over $3,200 in prizes. Teacher and student winners will be announced at the upcoming National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), held in Philadelphia, June 27-30, 2005.

Online entries for the grants program and photo competition are now being accepted. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 1, 2005.

Classroom Grants

Educators can visit http://www.toolfactory.com/olympus_contest/ to complete a one-page online application to win one of the four classroom grants to be awarded. The application requires only basic information from the teacher, a description of the proposed project for which the grant will be used, and a budget for up to $500. Submitted entries can be edited online any time until the June 1 deadline.
Grant applications will be judged on:
* The effective use of digital imaging and technology in the classroom, in any subject area.
* A high degree of involvement from all members of the classroom. Students can contribute to one classroom project, work as groups, or submit projects individually.
* Creativity and fun: students and educators should all enjoy the proposed classroom program, and the resulting presentations should be captivating and educational.
 
Each grant winner will receive:
* Three Olympus D-540 digital cameras for their classrooms, offering 3.2 megapixel capacity, a 10X (3X Olympus Optical Zoom, 3.3X Olympus Digital Zoom), auto-focus, seven shooting modes, and Auto-Connect USB for easy downloading of images.
* $500 cash for the supplies specified by the applicant.
* Tool Factory software licensed to install on every computer in the school, worth up to $2,000.
* 30 "Digital Camera Basics" workbooks, and "how-to" instructional manuals.
Winners will be contacted within 10 days of the June 1 deadline, giving educators time to prepare for the new school year.
 
Student Photo Contest
Students can enter their favorite photos into the contest by visiting http://www.toolfactory.com/olympus. The one-page entry form requests basic information and quickly allows for pictures to be uploaded directly onto Clip Art Station, where anyone can view the competing images once they've been accepted. Entries will be judged on composition, color, focus, captions, and creativity. Printable flyers are also available online for teachers to distribute to their colleagues and encourage students to enter the contest.
 
One Grand Prize Winner will receive:
* One Olympus C-5060, a digital camera offering 5.1 megapixel CCD, 14X zoom (4x wide-angle optical, 3.5 digital), high-speed sequential shooting, a fully adjustable LCD monitor, and Auto-Connect USB technology allowing quick downloads.
* Tool Factory software worth up to $200, plus $500 cash.
 
Three second-place winners will receive:
* One Olympus D-540 digital camera.
* Tool Factory software worth up to $200, plus $200 cash.

Source: Olympus America, Inc., http://www.olympusamerica.com; Tool Factory, Inc., http://www.toolfactory.com

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MMIS Xtra News: Complete May/June 2005 MultiMedia & Internet@Schools Contents Now Available Online—Full Text, Text+Graphics, PDF

The May/June issue of MultiMedia & Internet@School magazine is all there now at our Web site http://www.mmischools.com. In addition to the free May/June 2005 reviews and the free full text cover story (A.I. vs. the Pen: Cutting-Edge Tools for Teaching Writing), which have been available since the beginning of the month, now the remaining features, columns, and other May/June content have been processed. They're available in a variety of formats — Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of Information Today, Inc.'s InfoCentral and ProQuest Archiver.

For access, see the May/June issue contents HERE, click on any article, and follow the links.

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Free Resources: Scholastic Launches ‘Write It’ Interactive Site for Students and Teachers

Scholastic Corporation has announced the launch of Write It, a Web site and free interactive online "destination" designed to help meet the writing needs of students and the teaching needs of writing teachers. Write It <http://www.scholastic.com/writeit>, for student writers in grades 7-12, features a range of instructional and motivational tools such as immediate access to feedback and multimedia interactions with texts, to support students and teachers throughout the writing, editing, and publishing process.

Write It offers step-by-step writing workshops to help students brainstorm, draft, review, revise, and polish their work in several genres. Students can exchange ideas with one another, read and critique works in progress, post their own work for comments from peer writers and author experts, build a portfolio, and publish work online. Young writers can also download entry forms for The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a national program that offers early recognition for creative teenagers and scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors. In addition, visitors to Write It will find authentic literature from classic and contemporary authors, as well as audio and video clips of exemplary student authors reading and discussing their work, to illustrate writing techniques and inspire student writers.

Middle and high school teachers have access to additional resources at Write It, including a Teaching Center with writing lessons from Scholastic Classroom Magazines publications, and "Master Classes" for the teaching of different genres. Teachers can also join an interactive, online community to share and discuss teaching strategies with teachers from around the country, and find tools for showcasing class anthologies online.

Source: Scholastic Corporation, http://www.scholastic.com

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ITI Cross Links: Groxis and Yahoo! Team Up to Grok the Web

Search technology marches on, and it pays to keep up with it, because it's in your students' future (if not already in their present). Visual representation of search results and of the interconnections among those results is one direction in which that search technology is marching. It has been "happening" for a good while now. Want to learn some of the latest?

Paula Hane, news bureau chief for Information Today, Inc. and editor of the weekly online NewsBreaks, has posted a story that will help you get into the subject: Groxis and Yahoo! Team Up to Grok the Web.

A sampling from Paula's article:

Grokker [Groxis' search tool] organizes and provides a visual map of search results, making it easy to discover, explore, and organize the information. The maps use size, shape, color, and order to present information in a dynamic contextual setting; clicking on an item in the map presents additional information, which can be viewed in various layers of detail.

Of course you really have to try it out to visualize what that means!

Also, provocatively:

There is definitely a learning curve to using a technology like Grokker. While a picture might be better than a lot of text, it still can take some work to put the maps to best use. John Markoff recently noted in The New York Times that "The company faces an uphill challenge in persuading people to use its maps, however, according to researchers, market analysts, and competitors."

On the other hand, it seems to have great appeal in the educational community, both K-12 and higher ed. It has been particularly well-received at Stanford University, which was one of Groxis' first customers …

Italics in that last paragraph added by us, by the way. One reason we think it could appeal is that Grokker's approach might resonate with users of graphic organizers in K-12, and there are many of those.

Check out the article HERE, try out Grokker at http://grokker.com/ (try grokking Ridley sea turtle … click on those circles to drill down to myriad links … it's cool.), and tell your students about it.

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Free Resources: National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth Web Site

National Geographic and PBS have created a series of four television documentaries together called Strange Days on Planet Earth that delve into the effects of phenomena such as alien invasions (earthly alien species, that is), global warming, the disappearance of large predators, and the spread of toxins in the world's water systems. From what we've seen, they make for a riveting 21st-century media approach to studying environmental issues.

Thanks to the Internet Scout Project's Scout Report, we also learned of a complementary Web site for the Strange Days series that offers loads of material to study, explore, utilize as an educational resource, and otherwise just experience. There are interviews, experiments, links, activities … on and on it goes.

Just one small piece, in the For Educators section, is described as follows:

The Strange Days on Planet Earth project is proud to offer you an activity guide to help you delve deeper into the topics covered in the documentary series. Activities are especially appropriate for middle school-aged learners. All are peer reviewed, correlated to national science education standards and conform to the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Excellence in Environmental Education — Guidelines for Learning (K-12).

Click HERE to link to the Strange Days on Planet Earth Web site.

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Marquis Who’s Who Releases Digitized Historical Biographies

Marquis Who's Who has announced the addition of over 70,000 digitized historical biographies to its online database, Marquis Who's Who on the Web.

The launch of this new online product—Who's Who in American History—represents the first phase of a major digitization initiative that will provide a one-of-a-kind research database for library patrons, students, historians, genealogists, and other researchers interested in learning about important and noteworthy people from America's past, according to the announcement.

A search screen allows researchers to find people by name, occupation, historical era, birth and death information, or by using keyword searches to identify important figures associated with historical events, such as military battles, inventions, explorations, civil rights movements, and more. Also available are collections of names under such categories as Firsts and Other Notables, U.S. Government and Law, and Historical Events.

With the addition of historical archives to its existing online database of over 1 million biographies, Marquis Who's Who on the Web now encompasses over five centuries of inventors, explorers, colonists, abolitionists, important figures in government, the military, education, literature, business, medicine, and other fields. Famous individuals such as Christopher Columbus and Benjamin Franklin can be found, as well as lesser-known people throughout history who have made noteworthy contributions to society or to their specific fields.

The digitization initiative will be completed over the summer of 2005 as Marquis adds approximately 40,000 additional biographies to its online database.

To request a free trial or to learn about available discounts, visit http://www.marquiswhoswho.com.

Source: Marquis Who's Who, http://www.marquiswhoswho.com

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Cools Links: Google Scholar is Now Open to All Libraries

From the Google Scholar Web site:

What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.

The pilot project is now being vastly expanded. Interested? On your own behalf or on behalf of students you deal with who are heading to university? Then get an update and thoughtful opinion via this article on Gary Price's ResourceShelf: Google Scholar is Now Open to All Libraries.

And there's more, a great deal more, in Barbara Quint's story on Information Today, Inc.'s NewsBreaks: Library Collections Linked on Google Scholar for Free.

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Mandarin Library Automation Announces Mandarin M3 Software Available as Free Download

Mandarin Library Automation, Inc. has announced that it has begun offering the basic Mandarin M3 library management software package as a free download. The software download is available at http://www.mlasolutions.com, or a free CD can be requested from by e-mail from automation@mlasolutions.com ($14.95 shipping fee applies in the U.S. and Canada). The free download offer comes as Mandarin shifts focus to being more services-based and releases its new Oasis automation system. (See Mandarin Library Automation Releases Oasis Web-Based Library Management Software System.)

The download of M3 includes OPAC, Cataloging, Circulation (includes basic reporting), Inventory, and Group Editor. An annual Service & Update Agreement for M3 is available at $575 per site. The agreement includes:

* M3 Report Generator and reports
* Unlimited technical support
* Product updates
* M3 utilities
* Access to Customer's Corner on the Mandarin Web site, which includes downloads, documentation, and the Mandarin Knowledge Base
* Membership to the Mandarin Listserv

Pricing for all M3 optional modules will remain the same. For a list of optional modules and prices, visit http://www.mlasolutions.com/products/pricing.htm.

Source: Mandarin Library Automation, Inc., http://www.mlasolutions.com

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Mandarin Releases Oasis Web-Based Library Management Software System

Mandarin Library Automation has announced the release of Oasis, its new Web-based centralized library management software system. Oasis is a seamless upgrade from Mandarin M3, Mandarin's award-winning, Windows-based automation system that is now offered as a free download. (See Mandarin Library Automation Announces Mandarin M3 Software Available as Free Download.)

Oasis supports Unicode, a universal encoding standard that simplifies the sharing of multilingual text. This allows libraries to display their collections and the Oasis interface in Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Armenian, Chinese, and virtually any other language, according to the announcement.

Oasis helps single sites and districts lower their costs and save time with one-point installation, maintenance and updates. Optional add-on modules include Authority Control, SIF Agent (for Schools Interoperability Framework compliance), PACPortal, Syndetic Solutions, Union Catalog and Z39.50 integration.

For more information on Mandarin Oasis or to schedule an online demonstration, visit http://mlasolutions.com/products/oasis.htm.

Source: Mandarin Library Automation, Inc., http://mlasolutions.com/

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CIA World Factbook 2005 Now Available

The World Factbook 2005 is now available on the Central Intelligence Agency Web site; access it at http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html. The World Factbook remains the CIA's most widely disseminated and most popular product, now averaging more than 6 million visits each month. In addition, tens of thousands of government, commercial, academic, and other Web sites link to or replicate the online version of the Factbook, according to the CIA's announcement.

Although this reference site provides information as of 1 January 2005, it will be updated biweekly throughout the year to provide wide-ranging information about the background, geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for all included countries. The nine primary information categories and the 139 subcategories for most entities include geographic coordinates, gross domestic product, number of mobile cellular telephones, natural resources, legal systems, political parties, illicit drugs, mortality rates, and more. Included among the 271 geographic listings is one for the "World," which incorporates data and other information summarized where possible from the other 270 listings.

The World Factbook 2005 contains six appendices with reference information ranging from abbreviations and descriptions of international organizations and groups to cross-referenced lists of country data codes. The 2005 edition includes 15 reference maps, which are available in both JPEG and PDF formats. Many country maps and flags have been updated to reflect changes and refinements over the past year.

Six new entries have been added to The World Factbook 2005. In the people category, a major infectious diseases field has been added for countries deemed to pose a higher degree of risk for travelers. In the economy category, entries have been included for current account balance, investment (gross fixed), public debt, and reserves of foreign exchange and gold. The transnational issues category has a new refugees and internally displaced persons entry. Revision of some individual country maps, first introduced in the 2001 edition, is continued in this edition.

Printed copies of The World Factbook 2005 will be available for purchase in July from the Government Printing Office (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and the National Technical Information Service (http://www.ntis.gov). Ordering and pricing information for both domestic and international customers will be available on the GPO and NTIS Web sites.

The World Factbook 2005 is available for download in Zip file format for both high-bandwidth users and low-bandwidth users via the "Download This Publication" link on the Factbook home page or directly from http://www.cia.gov/cia/download.html.

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, http://www.cia.gov/

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